Quality in Scotland's universities
SFC has a statutory responsibility to ensure the quality of higher education provision in Scotland. SFC also supports polices to promote the continuing quality enhancement of learning and teaching in Scottish higher education institutions, and the engagement of the university sector in Scotland with the UK Quality Code.
Quality Enhancement Framework
The Quality Enhancement Framework (QEF) is Scotland’s distinct enhancement-led approach to quality assurance, with a focus on continuous improvement, partnership working and student engagement.
The partners of the QEF are: SFC, QAA Scotland, who manage the key elements of the framework, Universities Scotland, NUS Scotland and Student Participation in Quality Scotland (sparqs).
There are five interconnecting components of the QEF:
- Enhancement Led Institutional Review (ELIR) – evidenced-based method of peer review by staff and students from other institutions. ELIR results in a judgement, and a set of commendations and recommendations on how the institution is securing academic standards and improving the student experience.
- Institution Led Review (ILR) – Universities in Scotland are responsible for reviewing their own academic subject and professional services, reviewing all subject provision in a maximum six-year cycle. Universities submit an annual statement of assurance to SFC from their governing bodies - see the analysis of these statements for 2018-19 [PDF]. Updated guidance on the return of universities annual reports on their ILR and Statements of Assurance for 2019-20 [PDF] during the current Covid19 pandemic is also available here.
- Student engagement – encouraging and supporting students to actively share in the quality of their education.
- Enhancement Themes – a national programme of activities on a chosen topic to share innovation in strategy, policy and practice across the sector. The current Theme Evidence for enhancement: Improving the Student Experience (2017-19), asks about the evidence used to identify, prioritise, evaluate and report on what’s good about the student learning experience, and what might be better.
- Public information – ensuring clear, accurate and accessible information to inform student choice, enhance student engagement in quality improvement, and provide assurance on standards.
The five elements of the QEF collectively provide public assurance about the security of academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities at Scottish HEIs.
Guidance to higher education institutions on quality, 2017-2022 provides further details of quality arrangements for Scottish universities.
Discover Uni is a joint initiative of the UK higher education funding and regulatory bodies to provide an official and independent source of information about undergraduate higher education programmes.
The online resource uses official statistics about UK HE courses taken from national surveys and data collected from universities to better inform student choice.
National Student Survey
The National Student Survey (NSS) is an annual survey of nearly half a million students across the UK.
The survey gathers opinions from students about their time in higher education, asking them to provide feedback on what it has been like to study on their course at their university/college.
NSS is a joint initiative of the four UK HE funding and regulatory bodies.
The results of NSS 2020, and previous years' surveys, are available on the Office for Students (OfS) website.